Last updated on: 10/26/2010 | Author:

What Is the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and How Does It Relate to Electronic Voting Machines?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) is Public Law 107-252. Section 301 (PDF) 7.1KB specifically addresses voting systems. The introductory paragraph paragraph of the Act described itself as:

“An act to establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections, and for other purposes.”

2002 - 2002 Help America Vote Act

George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America, remarked at the Oct. 29, 2002 official signing of the Help America Vote Act of 2002:

“The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is a bipartisan measure to help states and localities update their systems of voting and ensure the integrity of elections in America…

When problems arise in the administration of elections we have a responsibility to fix them. Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied…

Each polling place must have at least one voting machine accessible to persons with disabilities…Along with the resources come high standards for the integrity of elections. States must ensure that voting systems have minimal rates of error and allow voters a reasonable opportunity to review their ballots and correct any mistakes before a vote is cast.

The administration of elections is primarily a state and local responsibility. The fairness of all elections, however, is a national priority. And through these reforms, the federal government will help state and local officials to conduct elections that have the confidence of all Americans.”

Oct. 29, 2002 - George W. Bush

Congressional Research Service’s 2003 Report for Congress titled “Election Reform and Electronic Voting Systems (DREs): Analysis of Security Issues,” described the following:

“The use of DREs [direct recording electronic voting machines], particularly the touchscreen variety, is expected to increase substantially under provisions of HAVA. Three provisions in the Act are likely to provide such an impetus. First, HAVA authorized $3.65 billion over four years for replacing punchcard and lever machines and for making other election administration improvements, including meeting the requirements of the Act.

Second, beginning in 2006, HAVA requires that voting systems notify voters of overvotes and permit them to review their ballots and correct errors before casting their votes.

Third, the Act requires, also beginning in 2006, that each polling place used in a federal election have at least one voting machine that is fully accessible for persons with disabilities. DREs are the only machines at present that can fulfill the accessibility requirement. They can also easily meet the requirements for error prevention and correction.”

2003 - Congressional Research Service

The Commission on Federal Election Reform’s 2005 report titled “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections,” stated:

“The Help America Vote Act of 2002 authorized up to $650 million in federal funds to replace antiquated voting machines throughout the country. States are using these funds and their own resources to upgrade voting technology, generally to replace punch card and lever voting machines with new optical scan and electronic voting systems…

As required by HAVA, the machines must be accessible to language minorities and citizens with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired citizens, in a manner that allows for for privacy and independence. Voting machines must also be transparent. They must allow for recounts and for audits, and thereby give voters confidence in the accuracy of the vote tallies.”

2005 - Commission on Federal Election Reform (Carter-Baker Commission)